Why Buhari should not dodge the debates

By dan onwukwe on 03/02/2015

Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon

Views: 2768

THE decision of the campaign organisation of the All Progressives Congress(APC)Presidential candidate,General Muhammadu Buhari  not to participate in the Presidential debates for the February 14 election, has elicited quite a torrent of debate of its own. It is not for nothing.Last week,Mallam Garba Shehu,a brilliant journalist and Head of media and publicity of Buhari’s Presidential campaign surprised many when he said that the APC Presidential candidate would not take any part in the debates put together by the Nigerian Elections Debate Group(NEDG).The debates went underway on Sunday with the Vice Presidential candidates of some of the registered political parties.     The Buhari Presidential team has alleged “premeditated bias” on the part of the composition of the debate panel.It said it was unlikely Buhari would receive fair and reasonable questions from the panel.He was also reported to have said that he would not stand in a

debate before journalists who have maligned his person and cast aspersions on his family.Is his refusal to take part in the debate a way of showing his hurt openly? I don’t know. The Buhari campaign has also expressed its fears that that the debate panel might take unfair advantage of President Jonathan’s incumbency and tilt the debate in the President’s favour.All of these  allegations have been strongly denied by Mr.Taiwo Alimi,chairman of the working committee of NEDG.

From the foregoing,the key questions to ask are:why are  presidential debates  so crucial in this election? Why is Buhari dodging the debates? What will these debates mean to Nigerians,especially eligible voters? These are legitimate questions. It must be said that the stakes are  high in these elections than previous ones.That of the presidency is indeed much more higer.Impressions would be critical.    Two  things  are not

debatable:The Presidency is not a prize to be won.It is a duty to be done.Second,a leader’s authority comes from the public’s belief in his right and ability to govern.Therefore,the essence of Presidential debates will be fully appreciated as a big opportunity to evaluate the policies,preparedness and if you will,the dimensions,of those who seek to govern.It is a time for the candidates to ask the electorate for their prayers,for their strenghth and support,and more importantly,for their voice and their votes.And without their mandate,this will not be possible.

We know that public speaking or oratory is not the strenghth of Buhari.Neither is  his intellectual ability.But this must be said:the best leaders are not necessarily the best debaters. After all,in 2011,Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau,the present Minister of Education  was by far the best debater,but he was not even the second best in that election.

Nonetheless,Presidential debates is a time to talk about leadership,to examine the character of each candidate,his vision and the future of the country. For Nigeria and Nigerians,it couldn’t have come at a  better time than now.And,for Buhari,even much more.But,it appears he has failed to seize the moment.Both Buhari and President Jonathan need these debates to prove their worth.For Buhari,instead of shying away from the debates,he needs them to  answer questions that have dogged his presidential ambition.

The reasons given by his representatives are far from convincing to me.Day after day,stories have appeared,weighty issues raised linking him with possible improprieties.These controversies are not about to go away anytime soon.He needs to clear the air on some of them.If he decides to shy away from these debates(I know his camp is already saying after all,President Jonathan  did not take part in the debate of 2011),time and

circumstances have changed,but the negative perception of millions of Nigerians about Buhari still persists.For instance,there have been reports that if became President he would be a sectional Presidential  whose main agenda is to divide the country along ethnic lines.Some say he doesn’t have the intellectual fecundity to engage in a robust debate.Other insinuate that he has a bristle temper and cannot be cool under pressure,that doesn’t have what it takes to stay unpresidential,a man without substance,arrogant and even egoistical.Some have questioned if he is truly the  man Nigerians and the international community can trust if given political power?

Trust entails leveling with the people before the election,not what the candidate can do after the election..These could be cheap shots that Buhari can use the platform of a Presidential debate to correct.You end up playing fast and loose with facts when you shun the platform that can help you put issues in proper perspective.

If Buhari remains abdurant and refuses to debate,it is not unusual anyway.Ex-American President,Lyndon Johnson rejected a Presidential debate with conservative Republican Senator Barry Goldwater in the 1964 Presidential race.Public speaking was said not to be his forte.Also,in 1968,Richard Nixon turned down a debate with Sen.George McGovern.His refusal was said to be as a result of his woeful performance against JF Kennedy in the 1960 Presidential debate where Nixon appeared nervous and deferential to his challenger.

He lost the election.It was an episode many Presidential candidates don’t fail to watch the reruns to gain useful lessons on the presidential debates and how to avoid same mistakes and buoy their confidence.Gerard R.Ford said in his autobiography that the Nixon-Kennedy debates helped him overcome anxiety and lack of confidence during his debate with Jimmy Carter in 1976 presidential debate.Ford lost the election anyway.

I advise the Buhari’s campaign team to use the tool used by Ford by positioning their man before a lectern,and fire the toughest questions they could find on any conceivable issue he may be asked if he changes his mind to participate.I guess he would be ready to face Jonathan this Sunday.

We need no reminding that our country is facing unprecedented challenging times. Buhari says the solution is “change” in the present leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan.How he wants to do that remains  within his campaign trail.Nigerians want to watch him in a life television debate, how,in practical terms,he intends to make this change happen.

There are many undecided voters,otherwise known as “floating voters” who need to watch Jonathan-Buhari debates to make up their mind on who to cast their votes on Feb.14.


Source The Sun

Posted on February, 3 2015

Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon

You may also like...
Winter Olympics and Dalung's double standard on Sports...

Abba Kyari: He loved Buhari so much that...

Buhari, a liar? Tinubu must be kidding

Nigerian Women soccer and gale of lesbianism

In search of salvation for Glasshouse

Igbo want freedom to be proud, productive Nigerians...

Ndigbo must not only endure Buhari, they must...

NBBF Impasse: D-day beckons for Tijani, Kida

NBBF: FIBA hammer dangles
Latest Edo election: Echoes of 15 minutes with President Akufo-Addo The consequences of blood Ngige: Salute to the revolutionary @68 The Minister’s Krola: Reminiscences of Zik, the Owelle and his ways Destroy this Magu, another Magu will rise How the Igbo make their money May 30 and Biafra: The war has just begun, five decades after Ohaneze-Ojukwu war: A battle that ended with one word! Abba Kyari: He loved Buhari so much that he hated Nigerians Wike, Ake and the sad story of the Nigerian journalist


Most Read Igbo want freedom to be proud, productive Nigerians *A reply to Buhari's What do Igbo want? (13,687 views) NASS example: If this is the Buhari magic… (3,818 views) Rio: Athletes’ agony after Buhari’s one year in office (3,632 views) Saraki: Haven’t we been on this road before? (2,995 views) Metuh and the tragedy of impunity (2,851 views) Mbaka: Before the tanks roll out on Biafra (2,824 views) Why Buhari should not dodge the debates (2,768 views) EFCC: Now, may we never have another Ribadu (2,733 views) Can Nigeria afford to ignore Uba at this time? (2,672 views) Fashola is not a saint, he is a Nigerian metaphor (2,662 views)


Columns Crux and Thrust (18) Musings of a Common Man (3) People and Politics (34) Strictly Energy Matters (1) The Jury (2)


CBN banner advert

Chelsea Outdoor

Veleta banner

FRSC Officials vs Woman Driver on highway



Newsletters Subscribe to Whirl Wind News newsletters today and get breaking news and updates delivered to your mailbox!

Sign up